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Standing on Faith with Limited Time to Live

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Sid Renfro describes the day she learned her husband had cancer. “Shock, fear, fear of the unknown. You don't know what to say. There is nothing you can say.  It was like our world just stopped.”           

In 1996, Tom and Sid Renfro were living comfortable lives in their small town of Coeburn in the Virginia mountains. Tom was a well-respected physician and had a thriving medical practice. Life was good, until December of that year, when Tom was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a very rare, aggressive cancer, already in its final stage. There was no cure. At 41 years old, Tom was told he had just a few months to live.

Tom had nagging questions, “what is my family going to do? How am I going to provide for my family? What are we anticipating? What are we going to be going through?"

His oncologist said chemotherapy would only prolong the inevitable, and the side effects would impair his quality of life. 

Tom says, “he was saying, you've got a limited amount of time, and I want you to make the best of what time you have left before the ravages of this disease gets hold of you."     

Tom and Sid decided to forego the treatment and stand on their faith and believe God for a miracle.

Tom explains, “I knew I had reached the maximum the medicine had to offer. But as a Christian and a man that was walking in faith, I knew that I had not reached the limits of God.”

As the cancer ravaged Tom’s body over the next several months, trusting and believing wasn’t always easy.

Tom says, “I would feel the tumors, they weren't getting smaller. They were getting bigger. And despair would set in, I’m getting worse and not better. And the way I would counteract, that is I would pull the scriptures out. And the more I spent thinking on the words of God, the less the despair, and the worry, the frustration had on me.”                       

Sid adds, “I had to rely on God.  I had to rely on the scriptures I had hidden in my heart. Either we trust, or we don't. And I had to trust.”

They weren’t the only ones asking god for a miracle.  By now, thousands of people throughout the region were storming heaven in prayer, especially their own church family.                     

Sid explains, “and I would call them, and I’d say, 'I don't see how he can live if God doesn't help him right now.' Many nights they went all night.”                       

Tom continues, “I had people around me saying, "look, Tom, we're standing in faith. We serve a God that's is unlimited in power and ability. We want you to continue to hold on in faith, because I’m believing." Sid even told me, "I get up every morning expecting the Lord to heal you.”          

Tom’s condition rapidly deteriorated.  Doctors believed his death was just days away. With Christmas approaching, they administered chemo, hoping it would buy time for Tom to spend the holidays with his family.  Immediately right before their eyes, a miracle unfolded.

Tom explains, “I noticed that the tumors on my neck had softened. And it wasn't happening just here, it was under my arms. And then they started shrinking.  And life, it just flooded into me where there was weakness and there was worry, now there was – there was hope, there was s joy, there was anticipation.”   

And good things would come.  Tom went back to his practice and would lead a full and happy life with Sid.  And the cancer? It never returned.  Over the years Tom and Sid have rarely missed an opportunity to tell their story. In fact, Tom recently wrote a book about his miraculous journey, and God’s healing power. 

Tom concludes, “I wrote "Avenues of Healing: Reaching for the Healing Power of God" to equip people with understanding of what's going on, what the enemy is trying to do, where sickness and disease comes from, and to encourage people on getting into the presence of God.  Words cannot express my gratitude to the Lord. It has changed the way I look at things.  It has changed my understanding as a role as a physician. I can see things in a little bit different light that, that brings greater joy and understanding to me, compared to where I was before this illness hit my life.” 

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About The Author

Dory Nissen

Dory Nissen has been story telling for CBN since 1993. She joined CBN when her husband received orders to Norfolk, VA. She loves sharing stories of God’s grace. Her most recent focus has been on producing stories showcasing how CBN financially helps military families. As a Navy sailor’s wife, she understands the challenges military life brings.